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Ann Christine Vilsack papers

Identifier: IWA1007

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Scope and Contents

The Christie Vilsack papers date from 1942 to 2008 and measure 5.5 linear feet. The bulk of the collection dates from 1999-2006. The papers are arranged in six series: Biographical, Speeches and columns, Literacy and Libraries, Projects, Terrace Hill, and Media Books.

The Biographical series (2007-2008) contains background information for Vilsack.

The Speeches and Columns series (1999-2005) contains notes from speeches Vilsack delivered while she was First Lady of Iowa. Vilsack regularly spoke at library openings, commencements, and conferences. Speech topics include education, labor, and women’s health. The series also includes columns Vilsack wrote for from 2003 to 2005.

The Literacy and Libraries series (1999-2006) consists of information on the programs and events Vilsack organized as First Lady of Iowa. The annual Spring Fling event, held at the governor’s mansion at Terrace Hill, encouraged children and adults to read both individually and as a family. Vilsack’s efforts to promote literacy as part of the Iowa Stories 2000 project at the Iowa State Fair complete the series.

The Projects series (1995-2006) contains papers and records from Vilsack’s activities in areas other than literacy and libraries. These include correspondence between Vilsack’s and Al Gore’s offices in 1999, and information on Vilsack’s trip to Iowa’s Japanese sister state.

The Terrace Hill series (1942-2006) includes information about the history and renovation of the governor’s mansion and events held at the mansion.

The Media Books series (1999-2006) consists of binders with photographs, correspondence, and newspaper clippings of events in which Vilsack participated, such as library openings and Terrace Hill events.


  • Creation: 1942-2008


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are closed except by permission of Christie Vilsack for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been retained by the donor.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Ann Christine “Christie” Bell was born in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, in 1950. In 1972, she received a BA in English from Kirkland College in Clinton, New York. While in college, Bell met Tom Vilsack, a student at nearby Hamilton College. The couple married in 1973, and had two sons, Jess and Doug.

After Tom Vilsack received his JD from Albany University in 1975, the family moved to Mt. Pleasant, where Tom Vilsack practiced law. In 1987, he was elected mayor of Mt. Pleasant, and in 1992, he was elected to the Iowa State Senate. During this period, Christie Vilsack taught middle school and high school language arts and journalism. She later taught English and journalism as an adjunct faculty member at Iowa Wesleyan College. Vilsack received her MA in journalism from the University of Iowa in 1992, and worked as a reporter and columnist for the Mt. Pleasant News for many years.

After her husband was elected governor of the state of Iowa in 1998, Vilsack became a full-time volunteer, making literacy her top priority. Between 2000 and 2006, Christie Vilsack raised funds to give a book to every kindergartener in Iowa and started adult and youth reading clubs. She organized numerous events to promote literacy, and visited over 500 Iowa libraries to discuss the social and economic impact of public libraries on communities. As first lady, Vilsack involved herself in women’s issues, including sponsoring Young Women’s Health Conference in 1999.

In 2007, Vilsack launched the Vilsack Foundation in order to promote literacy, libraries, and storytelling. As president of the Foundation, Vilsack partnered with the Verizon Foundation and The National Center For Family Literacy to create the national Tech Savvy Award, which recognized media and information literacy programs around the country that encourage parents to learn the technologies their children use.

In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Tom Vilsack to serve as Secretary of Agriculture. Christie Vilsack opted to remain executive director of The Iowa Initiative, a program that aims to reduce the high rate of unintended pregnancies among adult women in Iowa.

Vilsack has maintained an independent political identity throughout her life. In 1999, Al Gore sought Vilsack’s support for his 2000 bid for the presidency. In 2004, she attended the Democratic National Convention as a delegate and a speaker. After her husband withdrew his candidacy from the 2008 US presidential election, Vilsack endorsed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.


5.50 Linear Feet (Photographs in Boxes 10-12. Two CD’s shelved in digital collection, d0055 and d0056.)

Language of Materials



Journalist, teacher, and volunteer who served as First Lady of Iowa from 1998 to 2007.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 1087) were donated by Christie Vilsack in 2006 and 2007.

Related Materials

Jo Ann Zimmerman papers (donor 493, collection 351) – interview with Vilsack and other First Ladies of Iowa

Courtney Walters, 2009. Heidi Stofer, 2018.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)